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Rony Jason willing to drop to 135, eyes rematch with Renan Barao

Rony Jason might go on a stricter diet for his next fights in the UFC.

The Ultimate Fighter Brazil winner is set to take on Steven Siler at UFC Fight Night 38 in Natal, Brazil, on March 23, but his future might include a career in the bantamweight division.

"Who knows, maybe I’ll go down (to 135) one day," Jason told "I will see what I’m going to do after this fight. It could be a good move. And I would love to have a rematch with Barao one day, at 135 or 145."

Barao, the current UFC bantamweight champion, was 5-1 when he entered a cage against Jason in 2006. They fought on Nov. 9, and Barao left the cage with the split decision victory.

"I only knew jiu-jitsu back then, I never really trained boxing or anything like that before," Jason said. "I beat Fernando (Gardner) the night before and fought Barao for three rounds.

"It was a controversial decision, I don’t think he won. I spent two minutes with a triangle locked in the first round and two judges gave him the round."

Jason wants another shot at Barao, but he has to beat Siler to get closer to that. Focused on the UFN 38 bout, Jason trained with the likes of Patricio Freire and worked on his boxing skills with Neto Pegado, Barao’s father.

"My camp was great," he said. "I trained at Pitbull Brothers with Patricio and Patricky, Leandro Higo, Fabio Maldonado, Anistavio Medeiros and boxing coach ‘Netinho’ Pegado. I’ve worked really hard."

Siler and Jason have most of their wins via submission, and the Brazilian anticipates a jiu-jitsu battle inside the Octagon.

"He has an aggressive style, always goes for the finish, especially the submission," he said. "I’m a jiu-jitsu fighter and I expect this to be a very technical fight. He has a long reach and it can help him in the striking area, but I’ve trained with great sparrings for this fight."

Jason enters a fight coming off a loss for the first time since 2010 after having his 8-fight win streak snapped by Jeremy Stephens in November.

"I was too confident," he said, "and it won’t happen again."

"I hate losing. The UFC wants exciting fights, but you can be cut with one loss. And it’s not guaranteed that you’ll stay in the UFC with a lot of boring wins. It’s a lot of pressure over you. I have two kids and they depend on me."

Stephens needed 40 seconds to stop Jason at UFC Fight Night 32, but the months after the fight were the toughest ones. Jason was suspended for an unsportsmanlike conduct and had to deal with the criticism for his loss and post-fight actions.

"The biggest thing I’ve learned from my loss is that the same people that send you flowers are the ones that throw thorns on you after," he said. "Brazilians are way too cruel. They have short memory. I was undefeated for a long time. I suffered one loss and everybody kept asking ‘where’s Jason? He deserved it’.

"I saw some reporters saying that I only beat cans, and the first time I fought a better opponent I lost. I’m happy that this loss showed me who are my real fans and friends."

After so many criticism, Jason will have a better support on Sunday night. Fighting out of Natal, the featherweight will have family and friends inside the Nelio Dias Gymnasium to support him against Siler.

"I live in Rio Grande do Norte for 10 years, between Natal and Mossoro," he said. "Some of my best friends live in Natal, so I feel better than when I fought in my home state of Ceara. It’s going to be a great fight."

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